The theme of the 2014 World Population Day, which is commemorated each year on July 11, is “Investing in Young People.” In his annual message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the importance of providing young people with sufficient resources to lift themselves out of poverty, adding that investments in health, education, training, and employment are critical.
Education is widely recognized as an important component of sustainable development (goal two of the Millennium Development Goals) and as a basic human right (article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). In many developing countries, overall access to education is improving rapidly but varies greatly by region and between urban and rural areas.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with more than 140 million people and a median age of 18 in 2005. Progress as measured by education indicators (e.g., enrollment ratios and literacy rates) has been steady but slow. Several challenges still remain, among them wide regional and gender differences.
Some of these differences can be seen in the map above, which illustrates the distribution of adolescent literacy in Nigeria. The map shows the percentage of literate adolescents within the same age group by state and sex, as bar charts. Differences between states are striking, with literacy rates ranging from around 98% for both male and female adolescents in Imo State in the South to around 46% and 35% for males and female adolescents, respectively, in Borno State in the Northeast. Borno State is the area where schoolgirls were recently kidnapped by the group Boko Harum, which opposes the education of females. The map also highlights the persistent gender gap in literacy in many Nigerian states, mainly in the North and West.
The Map of the Month blog series is produced by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). The map was made by research staff assistant Ilyun Koh. Commentary was written by associate research scientist Susana Adamo.